The explosive power of Facebook almost blew up the reputation of a small Tasmanian eco-lodge  when a deal pushed through Facebook Offers rapidly got out of control, overwhelming the operators and sparking allegations of spamming. But as the dust settles,  it appears the marketing experiment may have been worth it after all for Huon Bush Retreats, which according to Facebook now has 4559 ‘Likes’, while the campaigns reached 3.6m users.

As of yesterday, there were 107,985 talking about while the number of ‘coupons’ downloaded was 127,835. Huge numbers, and a little misleading because no-one really seems to know understand the detailed mechanics of Facebook Offers.

In this case Huon Bush Retreats was invited to make a trial offer through the Facebook network. And that’s when the fun started.

For co-owner Paul Dimmick, who deserves kudos for his hands-on management of the fallout, the experience has been a “double edged sword – happy with the business but whether our reputation has been harmed is yet to be seen”

He says the promotion has been driving good sales and the original target of 50 three-night packages has been met and that the offer will be expanded to cater for demand.

The major downside has been Facebook users complaining that they have been spammed by Huon Bush Retreats. “Take me off this list now !!!!!!” was a typical response, this one from Lena Borch Lindstrøm.

Paul’s explanation of the alleged spamming is that: “As expected, Facebook has created a marketing tool that uses the viral nature of Facebook.

“What is not expected is that when someone opens the offer simply to read it, it seems to be distributed to their friend’s timelines, even if the user does not ask for it to be networked.

“It then sticks on their timelines, their friend’s pages and the business’s pages.”

The general understand is that the offer should only be sent to people who “like” the business in question, but clearly that doesn’t seems to be the case with Huon Bush Retreats.

“The most disturbing messages are the ones saying that we are displaying people’s email details on our public page.

“We have certainly not hacked into people’s accounts or cause anything for private details to be displayed.

“We simply clicked a link and posted a genuine offer. Facebook has done the rest.

Hopefully as this product develops, Facebook will adjust it to be less disturbing to viewers.”

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